Peripheral Arterial Disease affects the arteries outside the heart and brain. Left untreated it can lead to total loss of circulation to the legs and feet and that can cause gangrene and loss of a limb. About 8 million Americans have PAD and most of them mistake the symptoms for something else which can be a dangerous, even deadly mistake. People with PAD are at higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
Willis Hanna is taking advantage of Avera's Stroke and Vascular Screenings which happen every Wednesday at one of the Sioux Falls Hy-Vee Stores or at the AveraHeartHospital. (The location rotates every Wednesday. You can make an appointment by calling 1-877-AT-AVERA). You can get the Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening, Stroke Screening or Peripheral Arterial Disease Screening each for $35 or get all three for $90. The latter checks blood flow in the arteries in the legs. If there is blockage that means you have PAD. and the makings of a host of problems if not treated.
Dr. Mark Burket says, "The legs are the most common place for it to manifest, but it's actually a system wide disease so when people have build up of cholesterol in the legs often times will have build up in the aorta, arteries to the kidneys, arteries in the neck (carotid artery) and the coronary arteries. It can involve any blood vessel, but when we think of PAD usually we think of the legs.
Dr. Burket is the Director of Vascular Medicine at the University of Toledo. He's considered an expert in the field and was in Sioux Falls in May for the 14th Annual North Central Heart Vascular Symposium.
Dr. Burket says, "There are a number of risk factors. The two that standout are cigarette smoking and the presence of diabetes."
Dr. Burket says the easiest thing to modify your risk of PAD is to quit smoking. And if you are wondering if you have symptoms, he says the most definitive question you can ask yourself is do I have pain in my legs when I walk?
Dr. Burket says, "A lot of people will wake up and be stiff or their joints don't feel right or cramp when they sit for a period of time. That doesn't worry us so much, but when they have pain when they walk that's something that needs to be looked in to."
So do yourself a favor, exercise, stop smoking and get screened. Don't mistake leg pain as just one of the pains of growing older. It could be something much more serous.
Most cases of PAD can be managed with lifestyle modifications and medication. In the event that's not enough, angioplasty and a stent may be needed.